[lang_fr]Taj Mahal : Biographie[/lang_fr][lang_en]Taj Mahal : Biography[/lang_en]

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Taj Mahal, de son vrai nom Henry St. Claire Fredericks, est un musicien de blues américain né le 17 mai 1942 à New York, dans le quartier de Harlem. Il est le frère de la chanteuse Carole Fredericks.

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Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, better known by the stage name Taj Mahal (born May 17, 1942), is an American blues musician.

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Il débute au sein du groupe Rising sons avec Ry Cooder et Jesse Ed Davis, puis se tourne vers le blues et la world music.

Lors d’une session d’enregistrement dans un studio à Athens (Georgia), Taj Mahal rencontre un groupe de musiciens maliens (dont faisait parti Toumani Diabaté) et sympathise avec eux : de la discussion sur les liens entre le blues et la musique ouest-africaine naîtra le disque Kulanjan.

Il a remporté plusieurs Grammy Award du Meilleur disque de Blues contemporain. Il parraine la Music Maker Relief Foundation.

Discographie

Albums

1968 : Taj Mahal (CBS) avec Ry Cooder
1968 : The Blues
1968 : The Natch’l Blues
1969 : Giant Steps / The Old Folks at Home
1971 : The Real Thing
1971 : Happy Just to be like I am
1972 : Recycling the Blues and other related stuff
1973 : Oooh So Good’n Blues
1973 : Sounder Tracks
1981 : Best of Taj Mahal vol. 1
1986 : Taj
1987 : Shale Sugaree
1993 : World Music
1993 : Follow the drinking gourd conte lu par Morgan Freeman sur une musique de Taj Mahal (Rabbit Ears Records)
1996 : Phantom Blues
1997 : Senor Blues
1997 : Sacred Island
1999 : Kulanjan (Rykodisc) avec Toumani Diabaté du Mali
2000 : Best of Private Years
2003 : Hanapepe Dream
2003 : Martin Scorsese Presents …the blues
2004 : Musicmakers with Taj Mahal
2004 : Etta Baker with Taj Mahal
2005 : Mkutano

Participations

1992 : The source de Ali Farka Touré (World Circuit) du Mali
2007 : Le Coeur d’un Homme, chanson « T’aimer si mal » de Johnny Hallyday, duo et solo de guitare

Filmographie

1972 : Sounder de Martin Ritt
1988 : Live at Ronnie Scott’s
1996 : The Rock and Roll Circus (spectacle de 1968) avec les Rolling Stones, John Lennon…
1998 : 6 jours, 7 nuits (Six Days Seven Nights) réalisé par Ivan Reitman
2003 : Du Mali au Mississippi de Martin Scorsese avec Corey Harris, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita..
2004 : Taj Mahal & the phantom Blues Band in St Lucia

Derniers concerts en France

en 1998 au Festival Blues Passions de Cognac
le 14/11/2000 au Trabendo à Paris
le 27/07/2002 au New Morning à Paris
le 07/07/2005 à la Cigale à Paris
le 29/06/2007 au Enghien Jazz Festival
le 30/06/2007 à l’Archéo Jazz à Blainville-Crevon
le 24/07/2007 au Festival de Jazz de Vannes avec Demi Evans
le 05/08/2007 au Festival Jazz in Marciac avec Joe Cocker

Bibliographie

2001 : Autobiography avec Stephen Foehr (Sanctuary Publishing)
2001 : The unbroken circle : tradition and innovation in the Music of Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal de Fred Metting (Scarecrow Press)

Ecoutez Taj Mahal sur 121 web Radio !

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Taj Mahal was born in Harlem, in New York City, but grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a jazz pianist/composer/arranger of Jamaican descent, while his mother was a African American schoolteacher from South Carolina who sang gospel. His grandfather married a St. Kitts woman. His sister was Carole Fredericks.
In his song titled « Ain’t It Funky Now », he talks about his past and where he grew up.

In the early 1960s he studied agriculture and animal husbandry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated in 1964. (The same university also gave him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 2006.) While there he formed Taj Mahal & the Elektras; using a stage name of the Taj Mahal was inspired by a dream.

After college, he moved to Los Angeles and formed the group Rising Sons with Ry Cooder in 1964. The group signed with Columbia Records and released one single and recorded another album which was not released by Columbia until 1992. Taj, frustrated with the mixed reaction to his music quit the group and went solo.

Still with Columbia, he released a well-received, self-titled album in 1968, and based on its success released a second album, Natch’l Blues that same year. The two record set Giant Step, released in 1969 firmly established Taj as an American blues artist, with its title track becoming a cult favorite still popular with today’s audiences. Taj and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis are also known for their performance in 1968 on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.

His music blends various sources: blues, reggae, Cajun, gospel, bluegrass, Hawaiian (in fact, Taj lived for many years on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i), African and Caribbean musical traditions. While keeping true to their roots, he adds his own special touch. He also plays an assortment of musical instruments.

He has received two Grammy Awards in the category Best Contemporary Blues Album, the first in 1997 for Señor Blues, and again in 2000 for Shoutin’ In Key.

He has performed on various movie soundtracks including Sounder and Blues Brothers 2000 in which he also appeared. He also appeared briefly in the motion pictures Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (as the gatekeeper), Six Days Seven Nights (as the singer at a resort hotel), Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (as the leader of a swing band performing at a party), Outside Ozona and The Song Catcher.

He can also be heard singing the theme song and playing the acoustic guitar soundtrack on the children’s cartoon Peep and the Big Wide World. In addition, he wrote and performed the title theme song to the Star Wars spinoff cartoon series, Ewoks. He is also the composer of famous song She Caught The Katy (along with Yank Rachel) which is the first song performed by Jake Blues (John Belushi) at the beginning of the movie The Blues Brothers.

In 2006, he appeared as a guest musician on the Ladysmith Black Mambazo album Long Walk to Freedom, playing an electric guitar backing for « Mbube » (« The Lion Sleeps Tonight »).

On February 8, 2006, Taj Mahal was designated the « official Blues Artist » of Massachusetts by Chapter 19 of the Acts of 2006.
On December 16, 2006, he appeared with his band, Taj Mahal Trio, at the 18th Annual Warren Haynes Xmas Jam in Asheville, NC. The appearance was recorded for a DVD which was released in early 2007.

In 2006, Taj Mahal moved from Hawaii to Berkeley, California (which he calls « Yupsterella »), where he had lived during the peak of his career in the 1970s.

Discography

Albums

1968 : Taj Mahal (CBS) with Ry Cooder
1968 : The Blues
1968 : The Natch’l Blues
1969 : Giant Steps / The Old Folks at Home
1971 : The Real Thing
1971 : Happy Just to be like I am
1972 : Recycling the Blues and other related stuff
1973 : Oooh So Good’n Blues
1973 : Sounder Tracks
1981 : Best of Taj Mahal vol. 1
1986 : Taj
1987 : Shale Sugaree
1993 : World Music
1993 : Follow the drinking gourd by Morgan Freeman on Taj Mahal’s music (Rabbit Ears Records)
1996 : Phantom Blues
1997 : Senor Blues
1997 : Sacred Island
1999 : Kulanjan (Rykodisc) with Toumani Diabaté
2000 : Best of Private Years
2003 : Hanapepe Dream
2003 : Martin Scorsese Presents …the blues
2004 : Musicmakers with Taj Mahal
2004 : Etta Baker with Taj Mahal
2005 : Mkutano

Participations

1992 : The source by Ali Farka Touré (World Circuit)
2007 : Le Coeur d’un Homme, song « T’aimer si mal » by Johnny Hallyday

Filmographie

1972 : Sounder by Martin Ritt
1988 : Live at Ronnie Scott’s
1996 : The Rock and Roll Circus (1968) with the Rolling Stones, John Lennon…
1998 : Six Days Seven Nights directed by Ivan Reitman
2003 : From Mali to Mississippi by Martin Scorsese with Corey Harris, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita..
2004 : Taj Mahal & the phantom Blues Band in St Lucia

Books

2001 : Autobiography with Stephen Foehr (Sanctuary Publishing)
2001 : The unbroken circle : tradition and innovation in the Music of Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal by Fred Metting (Scarecrow Press)

Listen to Taj Mahal on 121 Web Radio !

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